Excerpt: I'm Just a Pill-popping Gal Who Likes To Shoot Up

Sara Nash Health Guide
  • Excerpted from The Single Gal's Guide to RA

     

    See the accompanying comic strip drawn by Jane Samborski

     

     

    Sundays for me have always served as relaxing, lazy days when I could sleep in, fix a big breakfast with a hot mug of coffee and hang about, maybe watching a movie or reading a good book.

     

    But now, accompanying that big breakfast are my three daily morning pills: hydroxychloroquine (200mgs), calcium (600mg) and magnesium (250mg- to help with my increasingly frequent migraines). I will also take the hydroxychloroquine again at night, along with another calcium, when I eat dinner.

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    I've been on the hydroxychloroquine, aka Plaquenil, since November. I think it helps now, but it was pretty slow acting at first. ... I use a drug called eternacept, or Enbrel, and I inject 25mg twice a week. When I first began the shots, I used the more typical 50 mg shot once a week, but I got insane, children-would-run-screaming-from-me-if-they-saw-this reactions at the injection site. They looked like massive alien welts that had attached themselves to my thigh in order to multiply and take over the world. ... So about a month ago, my rheumatologist switched me to the 25mg shots, which are sooooo much better, and they hurt less, too.

     

    Taking the pills isn't so bad, though sometimes it's a little awkward when I'm out to dinner with people from work and have to toss it back-though I've gotten pretty slick at doing this without anyone being the wiser. When I first had to start injecting myself, I was terrified. My brother assured me that it wasn't bad (he's had EMT training and is basically superman, so a little tiny needle is no big thing to him). I wasn't so sure about that, and masked my fear by making jokes that I was going to bring back the heroin chic look and bleach my hair blond, wear ripped up stockings all the time and smeared red lipstick. (I didn't, FYI).


    When I finally got my shots -- it took a solid month to coax my insurance company into giving me their approval (meanwhile, I WAS IN CONSTANT PAIN, assholes), I made my appointment with the nurse at Beth Israel (where all the members of my medical supersquad work) to learn how to give them to myself. The nurse, Lorraine Whitson, was truly remarkable and so kind and patient with me, and I will forever be grateful for that, because having to stick a needle into your flesh for the first time is completely intimidating and scary. There's no getting it wrong. She let me practice on a rubber ball with a practice needle over and over again until I felt confident to do it to my leg.

     

    And it was kind of like when I got my tattoo in college; it hurt like HELL (not the needle so much, unlike the tattoo, but actually injecting the medicine, which surprised me), but then my body released a flood of happy little adrenaline streams, and I felt all pumped up like a rock star. ... Now it's really no big thing, and I secretly like it. It's my little Nurse Nancy moment twice a week, and what I like most of all is the feeling that I am doing something to make myself better.

     

Published On: October 07, 2008